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The debate over whether or not God is existent is one that has lasted thousands of years. Philosophers on either side of the debate have been bringing up arguments for or against it for quite a while yet neither side has come to a conclusion. With this confusing confounding question on our hands, I feel that discussing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument could give a greater understanding to your own personal conclusion. Whether or not you believe in god(s) you can still learn about the world around you and the many beliefs that are held. Without further ado, let’s venture into God’s existence.
Before asking the question “Does God’s exist?”, we should first define the word “God”. Sadly, God it isn’t just an old guy with a long beard hanging out in the sky. God based on the roman catholic definition, “is the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being”. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. In simpler terms he’s able to see, and be everywhere and loves all. Now with the long list of Philosophers over the past few centuries with there proofs for the existence of God, choosing an actual sound argument can become quite a challenge. There have been several big named philosophers to do so such as Gottfried Leibniz, and Blaise Pascal, but in this slew of Philosophers and arguments there’s one Philosopher and his argument that stand out.
Aristotle’s Cosmological argument. Being one of the most popular and most agreed with ways of proving God, many say it’s the strongest case available. The cosmological argument argues that whatever exists must come from another cause or thing. A perfect example of this is you. You are the cause of your parents having birth, your parents are the cause of of their parents having birth, and your parents’ parents are the cause of their parents having birth and so on. So with the idea that everything has a cause a big question arises. What was the cause for the beginning of life on earth? Aristotle’s cosmological argument argues that God was the first cause, the cause to start all causes! With this idea of causes being chained to other causes Aristotle created the idea of there being a chain of causality. But getting the idea of causes and effects creating a chain lead to another question. How far back does this chain go?
Well with Aristotle’s thinking he believed the chain must stop at some point. He believed that to have this chain of causality, “there must be a cause that is not, itself caused: an ultimate or original cause, a cause that somehow gives existence to all other things”. This “ultimate” or “original” cause ended up being God, for he is not caused by anyone or anything else and is what Aristotle calls self-causing. Even with several modern philosophers agreeing with this though, there are others who disagree.
David Hume and Immanuel Kant are two Philosophers who criticized this idea of there being a chain of causality. David Hume believed that since we don’t have any experiences of universes being made, it is not possible to argue the causes in the universe to the cause about the universe. Even with his disagreements though, Hume never completely disagreed with the cosmological argument. The same can’t be said for Kant though. He completely wrote off any idea of there being a phenomenon like this. He not only disagreed with the idea of there being a “Necessary Being” or a “God”, but also believed that since our knowledge was only acting and limited to this space and time, it is unfathomable to think of anything outside of our space and time.
Even with these disagreements though the cosmological argument still stands as one of the best proofs for the existence of God to several Philosophers. Its believed this is the case because it’s simply the most sound argument. It’s wrong to say its 100% correct, but it’s also wrong to say its 100% incorrect because doing so would only fulfill the fallacy of appeal to ignorance. With this entire world being full of many different beliefs and atheisms, it is without a doubt that several Philosophers have created disproofs for the existence of God.
One of, if not the strongest, arguments against the existence of God is The Problem of Evil. The problem of evil is something that has plagued humanity ever since our creation. You can see this by looking back through our history and through the amount of suffering, killing, and abusive power that has happened in our past. When we look back on evil doings we think of Hitler and the Auschwitz camps or the several wars that have caused bloodshed. Now with all this evil in our world an argument against God arises. If there was a perfect, all loving, all seeing, all knowing, creature such as God, why would evil be forever plagued in humanity. With this idea in mind, several Philosophers have used this to disprove the existence of God. They say if evil exists, than a supremely perfect being (God) could not exist.
An argument closely related to this states that both a supremely perfect being and evil existing creates a logical contradiction. This is said because a supremely perfect being would never allow evil to exist while it itself exists. Even with this strong evidence against God, some Philosophers disagree with this idea. Some Philosophers have disagreed with this idea stating that God isn’t the creator of evil. They say that this allows humans the ability of having free will and choice on their own morals which creates the problem of evil. Meanwhile Philosophers such as Bishop George Berkeley have disagreed with this problem of evil by saying that “The very blemishes and defects of nature are not without their use, in that they make an agreeable sort of variety, and augment the beauty of the rest of creation, as shades in a picture serve to set off the brighter and more enlightened parts”.
In simpler terms he’s saying that without pain and “small term evils” nothing is good and there’s a loss of balance to the idea of nature. With this almost sound argument for the disapproval of God’s existence, it still falls under the same category of the cosmological argument discussed before. It still brings no clear conclusion and saying that either one is indefinitely correct would be the fallacy of appealing to ignorance. With there still being no conclusion in sight the next idea for God’s existence may be the one to follow.Now after looking at a proof and disproof for God’s existence its become evident that there’s no for sure conclusion available.
Both sides of the argument have there own strengths and weaknesses but in reality neither brings a sound conclusion. With this lack of a conclusion this third idea for the existence of God comes into play. Agnostic Theism. To be Agnostic means that you feel that there isn’t enough evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God. It means that you believe in some sort of greater being or deity but any actual knowledge or attributes about their existence is unknown.
Over the years in metaphysics this has become a more accustomed belief for several Philosophers. Since they can’t bring up a conclusion they decide the best option is to neither agree or disagree. Although agnosticism can be linked back to atheism, many believe its less on the belief or disbelief of there being a god and more on the knowledge behind the existence of a God and what you don’t know. Overall, the agnostic theism approach is coined as the safest bet for the existence of their being a God. Rather than fighting on theories or make-belief, they stand in the middle and wait for there own answer to reach them.
So does God really exist? Well no one knows, and it’s likely no one will ever know. There are proofs for and against it but in reality there is no answer. That’s why the conclusive answer for many Philosophers has ended up being the idea of Agnostic Theism. Rather than fight with personal beliefs they stand on the middle grounds while neither believing nor disbelieving the existence of God. They only look at it from a knowledgeable view point and with no clear evidence its where they’ll most likely stay for their idea on the existence of God. But even with all of this being said, your beliefs are solely decided by you. So Whether you are Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, or something in between, your beliefs are carried by your own morals and actions you take and your own viewpoint on the world around you. This not only allows you to make your own decisions but gives you a question to search for during the rest of your life. Does God exist? That’s up for you to decide.
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